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January 31, 2007

The Disarming of The Googlebomb

The new anti-Googlebomb algo change has been getting a lot of attention lately. I have to admit that when the news first came out I was a bit concerned about how this would be handled.

Please tell me, GoogleMaster, that my countless hours of linkbuilding have not been deemed worthless.

As most of you know Google is always quite tight-lipped when it comes to discussing algorithm changes, so I spent some time researching this issue and after a little push, er begging encouragment from my boss, I decided to write about what I think about all this hype.

As I stated, from an SEO perspective this news was quite earth shattering, just check out the industry blogs and forums and you'll see that everyone is talking about Googlebombs everywhere. I have however, decided to stay off from the Google conspiracy/paranoia bandwagon...for now anyway. We have yet to see any effects from this algo change for any of our or our clients' sites.

This is not to say that I completely agree with what Google is doing.

Here is a past statement regarding Google's stance on Googlebombing from a New York Times article in December 2003:
Craig Silverstein, Google's director for technology, says the company sees nothing wrong with the public using its search engine this way. No user is hurt, he said, because there is no clearly legitimate site for "miserable failure" being pushed aside.

Moreover, he said, Google's results were taking stock of the range of opinions that are expressed online. "We just reflect the opinion on the Web," he said, "for better or worse."
With the new algo in place Google is no longer going to "reflect the opinion of the web" (and those that use it). Although, we in the SEO industry are continually trying to manipulate the SERPs to our benefit, for Google to intentionally disable this type of popular opinion/commentary is a true detriment to the web and America's dwindling free speech rights. I understand Google's concerns over users thinking that the famous Googlebombs, such as George W. Bush's miserable failure, were of their own opinion, which is partly why they chose to impliment the change, according to Matt Cutt's , Google Engineer. However, by implimenting this change are they now not editing (or more presicely censoring) others' opinions instead?

There have been many theories on how Google is implimenting this new anti-Googlebomb algo. However Matt Cutts says on his blog, "I don’t think we’re going to get into discussing the internals of the Googlebomb algorithm other than to say that it’s due to improved link analysis".

"Improved link analysis"

This is not saying they are discounting huge numbers of backlinks. What I have taken from this is the possibility that if the target URL has tons of "off-page" optimization for a certain keyphrase, but very little or no "on-page" optimization for that same keyphrase, then it might be considered a Googlebomb. That is to say, backlinks which have anchor text not related to the content of the URL they are directing to, or the landing page, shall be completely ignored, or discounted, by the new algorithm changes.

Matt also explains the scope of the anti-Googlebomb algo on his blog:
Here’s a good way to think of the algorithm. If queries were sand, and Google’s daily queries was a big pile of sand, this algorithm would affect less than a couple hundred grains of sand. It really does have a very limited scope and doesn’t affect a large fraction of queries. The intent of the algorithm is to minimize the impact of "true" Googlebombs, which occur when someone is causing someone else's page to rank for stuff that they wouldn't want to rank for themselves.
Here's to hoping my grains of sand remain in Google's unaffected sand pile! ;)

While pouring over the many comments over at Matt Cutts blog, I found that user "jonydzine" pretty much took the words right out of my mouth:
That’s good to know… but I am a bit torn. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think these kind of things are actually good. I mean people will always prank and find a way to prank, and most of these instances that I’ve seen of Googlebombing, I think people need to get a sense of humor, including some presidents (I will not name names, of course). I’m sure that in some sense of abuse, it is good that this thing not go unchecked. However, I hate to see one of the last forms of "free" speech become a bit more sterile. Isn’t it American to sign the declaration of independence in extremely large letters to add insult to the King? Didn’t we toss a boat full of tea back into a harbor a while back? Just seems that good ol’ hooliganism and shenanigans to get a point across or to chide people to let you know what they think is a very American tradition and despite what good it may do to sterilize the net of abuse, a part of me is sad… :)
And you know… some big fella once said "there is no such thing as BAD publicity…" of course, I don’t think he was a politician.
So there ya go, thanks Matt and Google, for making us all a bit less evil…"

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